When communicating with seniors, it can be a fine line between being dismissive and being patronizing. Whether this senior is your parent, in-law, grandparent, neighbor, or someone you are caring for, it is important to get this communicating thing down.
- Look at the senior when communicating. Elder’s hearing start to worsen after the age of 65, sometimes before. If you turn away from them or are walking away, they may not hear you or even know that you have spoken to them.
- Remember to speak slowly and clearly. Again, the senior’s hearing may not be as sharp, and they hear volume, but not clarity. In other words, in loud environments, they cannot hear what people are saying, so speak slowly and clearly, and try to keep background noise to a minimum.
- Listen to what the senior is saying without interruption. Getting their thoughts out may take a little longer, so please don’t interrupt them, or they may forget what they are saying, or lose track of their thoughts…shoot, I am in my mid 50’s and lose my train of thoughts!
- Provide pictures and reminisce with the senior. Not only will it jog their memory, but it will probably take them back to an enjoyable time that they would love to share with the listener. You will be amazed at the wonderful life stories that this elder will tell you.
- Be patient, please. Sometimes seniors forget that they have already told you a story…many times. Please be polite and patient…laugh at the story, because this is usually something that the elder enjoys and can’t wait to tell you. Many times, the senior is aware that they are forgetting things and are already frustrated with themselves, so…
- Giving them a warm smile and a light touch will do wonders.